As Ed Reed prepares to take his place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, teammates, friends and coaches from his Ravens, college and high school years reflect on the legacy of the legendary Ravens safety with their favorite memories and never-before-heard stories.
As told to Glenn Clark
Ben Parquet was a student advocate in the St. Charles Parish Public Schools system and a mentor to Ed Reed.
I mentored him when he was in junior high school, and I just saw him as a kid that had a lot of potential. … What I did with middle school kids that I felt had potential in sports, I would bring them up to the high school and take them out to practice and meet the coaches. “Hey, this is where you could be in a couple of years.” I did that with Ed a couple times and the principal, teachers, coaches got to know him and we used to just come and hang out.
This strange, mysterious thing happened. He was a grade behind and there was a program [for kids] to come to the high school and they would take a couple elementary classes and they would take maybe like an English or reading at the high school level, and they would be able to participate as a high school student and start earning some credit. Because I figured if he was staying at the middle school, he wouldn’t have been eligible to do sports and he probably would have lost interest. But here was the kicker: When the time came to send the older kids to the high school, Ed was two weeks or so too young to qualify for the program. That meant Ed was gonna be left back at the middle school.
So I came up to the principal — the guy that was the principal at this time. Kind of ran Ed’s story by him. I said, “Man, we can’t lose this kid. He’s got to come up because if he stays at the middle school, he’s too old to play sports and he’s gonna get lost in the shuffle.” He said, “I can’t do it on my own,” but he said go and talk to the assistant superintendent. So I went and talked to the assistant superintendent and told her the story, and she made an exception for him. And he came onto the high school and I would go back and think, “What would have happened if we couldn’t have cleared that?” And once he got here, man, he was like a different kid. He never was a mean kid that fought, he was just a mischievous kid that didn’t put the emphasis on the academics. And he got here, he grew up, and he took care of his business and the rest of it is history, man.
I remember one year, about three, four years ago. Our girls’ basketball team won the state championship in basketball, and somebody called him and actually [asked if he] would help buy the rings for the girls for the championship. And his comment was something similar. “I’m not gonna help buy, I’m gonna buy the girls rings.” He bought about 22, 25 state championship rings for the girls and the coaches and the trainers. These are the things I remember about Ed the man. This is why I always tell him I’m more proud of him as the man that he became and not just the athlete, and he was a super athlete. He just was a great kid. I can remember one year we had a flood at East St. John High School, one of the schools in our district. They flooded and they lost a lot of their equipment. I can’t remember the dollar value, but he went in his pocket to help buy equipment to get that football team back on the field. When I talk about Ed the man, this is what I talk about. I’m just proud of him.
To read more memories of No. 20, visit PressBoxOnline.com/Reed.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jeanne Hall
Issue 255: June/July 2019